Laura Bowditch said her family expected her to go to college and find a “regular” job and initially she tried that route. She got a degree in business technology and management at Vermont Tech but the jobs she found failed to excite her, so she went back to school and got a degree in cosmetology from Salon Professional Academy in Williston.
These days, the 30-year-old Bowditch is happy to make her living standing behind a chair at her salon, Hinesburg Hair.
“I was always drawn to that field,” Bowditch said. “I was starting a family so initially I worked in Chittenden County at some chain salons, which allowed me to set my own schedule and spend time with my two daughters.”
At one of those salons, Bowditch cut the hair of Scott Shumway, whose company had been a client of the information technology firm where she had worked before changing fields. Realizing that Bowditch had business skills to go along with her haircutting talent, Shumway suggested that the two Hinesburg residents combine resources and open a hair salon in their town.
Bowditch grew up in Bristol but her mother was the assistant town clerk of Hinesburg. “I had spent a lot of time in Hinesburg and I loved it here,” she said.
In August 2015, Bowditch opened Hinesburg Hair on Commerce Street, figuring the location would give her visibility.
“There are a lot of people driving through the parking lot who might not be seeking out a new salon, but they’ll be at the hardware store and see our sign,” she said. “It’s an ideal spot being next to other businesses.”
Hinesburg Hair is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. There are two other hair stylists and one receptionist at the salon. The three io also do facial waxing and are available to travel to weddings to provide on-site hair care. The salon is generally booked solid and is busiest during holidays and just before the start of the school year.
Although there is artistry to her work, Bowditch says her natural inclinations are more toward science than art. “I like the architecture and physics of cutting hair,” she said. “I like some of the predictability that if you cut this section this way, it should behave that way. You can usually tell by the angle of the head and the texture of the hair what will happen, although hair doesn’t always behave the way it’s supposed to.”
Bowditch’s daughters are 6 and 8 years old, so much of her leisure time revolves around spending time with them, often outdoors. She is learning to play the banjo and she and the girls enjoy going to concerts.
While many people have fixed ideas about how they like their hair, others ask Bowditch to create a new look for them. “You try to visualize their style,” she said “and come up with a vision of what they want.”
Nothing pleases her more than watching her clients as they leave the salon, admiring their new cuts in the mirror. “We love exceeding people’s expectations,” she said. “We also pride ourselves on having a comfortable atmosphere where customers can express things they might not say to others. Our goal is to have everyone leave happy.